Hungarian lawmakers handed laws on Tuesday to tighten state control of research bodies run by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), overriding protests in opposition to the most recent step to increase the government’s role in public life.
Since taking power in 2010, right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has caused a politicization of the courts, media, and universities, putting his government at odds with the European Union over the rule of regulatory standards.
The brand new law strips the 200-year-old Academy of its community of research bodies and fingers them over to the committee with a chair selected by Orban and half its members from the government.
The change was wanted “to make sure a sustainable increase to Hungary’s long-term competitiveness… (and) a more environment-friendly use of assets,” the bill’s author, Innovation and Technology Minister Laszlo Palkovics, wrote in his reasoning.
Palkovics will now chair an 11-member council on behalf of the Academy to allocate and monitor funding.
The government will handle research institutes separately and will add new ones or shut current ones.
Orban will appoint the chief of the analysis council based on a joint suggestion of Palkovics and the MTA chief.
Academy President Laszlo Lovasz mentioned the rise in state effect over scientific analysis was unacceptable and he would problem the laws at the Hungarian Constitutional Court.
“One of many highly problematic elements is the extreme influence of the government by European standards,” he advised Reuters in an interview last month.
Thousands of Hungarians have taken to the streets to protest the deliberate overhaul of research actions and budgets, with one other rally scheduled for later on Tuesday.
Opposition teams accuse Orban of in search of to impose increasingly authoritarian, one-party rule.